Perth’s agriculture technology hub has gained five talented teams in its coworking space to further the progress of the burgeoning industry.
Since its doors formally opened in February this year, Combine Agtech Hub has been a thriving space for Perth’s agtech startups to find a new home in the Perth CBD.
Supported by DPIRD (WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development) and CBH (Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd), Combine is offering scholarships to assist startups in the Agtech industry. Allowing companies to focus on finding new ways of addressing industry-specific challenges, such as climate change and integration of IoT, this sector is seeing a lot of interest from the startup community and investors alike.
Five startups have recently joined the Combine Agtech Hub, all with a unique mission to influence change in what is fast becoming a booming industry:
Using its data processing and mapping tools, this startup helps farmers improve operations and through continuous improvement by building customisable packages to suit the goals of their specific farm, rather than a blanket approach which is the current standard.
The group also offers cost-effective environmental management and geographic information services throughout Western Australia. All data is processed in-house by personnel who understand each enterprise’s operations.
Before setting out to provide solutions to farmers, Co-Directors Philip Honey & Simone Honey had both worked extensively in the Agricultural space, with Philip holding qualifications in Agribusiness, Agricultural Sciences & Environmental Sciences, making them well-positioned to understand the needs of the industry.
Founder Michael Ford has been heavily involved in the AgTech sector, in the last two years setting out to create a precision agricultural tool that would help farmers with yield modelling and monitoring the weather using digital maps after realising that visualisation was key to portioning out the large volumes of data that businesses collect.
This understanding was integral to the development of Hectare which works to build simple to use tools for precision agriculture, visualising data on maps and satellite imagery, as well as real-time weather information and rain radar data from nearby DPIRD stations. Hectare also offers access to current and historical 10m Sentinel imagery, colour, NDVI and moisture Australia-wide.
Smart sensors have become cheaper and more adaptive than ever before. Perth-based startup iGrower aims to bring various data points to the farm in an easy-to-use format. The company’s devices can view data and control pumps and valves using a smartphone or computer which is specially calibrated to account for farming conditions.
Communicating with each other via long-range wireless communication, the devices can share data, and with the app growers can check the status of each pump, as well as the temperature and humidity sensors.
Founded by Darren Hughes, ex-GM (and current board member) of GRDC, iGrower is well-positioned to take advantage of the huge push this industry is experiencing.
Vertically integrated food and agriculture company Wide Open Agriculture aims to regenerate ecosystems and revitalise communities in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt – producing premium vegetables with climate-smart, shade house technology. With its ‘Food for Reasons’ food brand, the business can market fresh and processed healthy food products. The team also purchases land and partners with regenerative farmers to help restore the ecosystem and ensure long-term productivity.
Wide Open Agriculture went public in July 2018, raising its $5 million initial public offering. Chairman Anthony Maslin’s reason behind creating the startup was to revitalise WA’s wheat belt. Alongside WOA Managing Director Ben Cole, and non-executive Director Stuart McAlpine, the team aims to bring opportunities for regenerative farming to the community.
Providing organic and botanical products to improve the fertility of soil, WA-based Go4Organics aims to provide balanced nutrition to plants. The company’s aim is to support the local community and farmers with products which are toxic-free and are a natural pest and disease control.
The fertilisers on offer contain nutrients from non-edible oilseeds, aquatic weeds and peat soils, and when used in the right phase of growth, will result in residue-free yield – as well as having a clean, chemical-free environment.
A word from Environmental & Cropping Technologies Australia:
Environmental & Cropping Technologies Australia company Director Philip said, “Working with Combine gives us the ability to stay at the forefront of adopting, testing & implementing new technologies which can ultimately help improve on farm efficiencies & help address upcoming industry-specific challenges throughout Western Australia”.
“Combine (and it’s parent organisation Spacecubed), are both renowned for their ability to help foster innovation, whilst also allowing us the opportunity to be directly immersed & working with industry leaders & up-comers involved in design & prototyping, as well as the agricultural, resources & energy industries” Philip noted. “Working from a second location (in conjunction with our home-base in Esperance), helps ensure that as our company and service offerings expand, we can effectively support more clients throughout WA in their technology uptake processes”.
We look forward to this opportunity in bridging and resolving the technology barriers & digital divides between suppliers & industry, in the ultimate aim to improve on farm productivity and efficiency.
Philip is Environmental & Cropping Technologies Australia's Company Director, and manages the GIS & Precision Agriculture data processing for the company. He has a keen interest in AgTech and is also a committee member & vice president of Society of Precision Agriculture Australia (SPAA).